I knew I wanted to study engineering but I couldn’t qualify for a tier-I college. I chose among the available options and ended up in the computer science engineering course. If someone asks me today about my intentions then, I’d say it was only based on the kind of opportunities each stream offered.
At that point, there were students around me who had studied the basics of programming languages during school, while there I was, one among the few outliers of sorts who didn’t even know how to use a computer. It seems strange thinking about it now but I had to enroll myself into a course to learn how Microsoft Office works.
Only after nearly three months of college, I was able to buy my first computer - a second-hand laptop. However, coming from such a background didn’t make me feel under confident, I’d rather say it made me believe that if I could arrive where they have arrived with much fewer resources, I have the ability to do better now.
My friend Hamid, who had been programming since he was in school helped me post that, suggesting that I join Codechef and start learning things on my own.
There was little to negligible scope or exposure in college to even understand how things worked. For one, we had started to code but when we would see a product that worked, it seemed like magic. Something that only the others are capable of doing.
But then, after a while, I realized that I was not really progressing in the rankings at these coding platforms. Along with my friend Deepak, I bought one book each on number theory and DS Algo from old Delhi during the two-month long vacations, and finished most of the mathematical problems.
The basic idea was to scrape knowledge off of whatever we heard from someone else. I wanted to learn but there was no structure to follow, there was no real guidance. What that also did was I ended up buying books on topics I was not yet equipped to understand.
What followed were a couple of internships where the pay wasn’t great but there was some learning. And a while later when a job opportunity at Amazon came up, I jumped at the opportunity and applied. A first-round elimination happened and I locked myself up in my room for three-four days after that, such was the disappointment.
More than anything though, that experience helped me understand my drawbacks and that I needed to work extra hard to get the job I wanted. I started solving different problems on the InterviewBit platform and that’s when they launched the six-month course.
Becoming A Scaler
A big motivation behind joining Scaler Academy, then known as InterviewBit Academy, was that it was promising a lot more than our college ever had.
To learn from the best of people from the industry was a big attraction. Add to that an opportunity to be referred to the best of companies, and there was little doubt in my mind when I joined the first batch.
Within the very first month, I had become a lot more confident about my abilities. Almost any small company that I applied to, I was able to get in.
According to me, what Scaler does best is create a well-defined path and clear the smokescreen that often exists between those outside of tier-I colleges and the best technology companies. It instils in you the much-needed belief that you belong there, with the rest and that a degree can’t define your skills or who you are.
More than that, it also gives you the feeling of being in a community of individuals who want the same thing as you do.
I bagged a job at Lido Learning thereafter via a referral. But the association didn’t end there. Even when I had to move to Mumbai, Anshuman sir helped me get in touch with some existing people at the company and made that transition smooth.
Apart from my mentor Chandan Singh, I’d also like to thank Yash Singla, another Scaler mentor who went out of his way to help with a referral at Amazon. Even though I didn’t get the job, what he did for me was unbelievable. I’m still grateful for that gesture.
Although I have now joined a start-up to focus on something else, the impact that Scaler had will always stay with me.
At this start-up as well, the pressure was so intense that I thought I would quit in 3-4 months but I saw that there were others in my role who had joined and exited quickly due to the same reasons. I looked back at my own past, that one curve where nothing was going right, and realized that I needed to struggle through this phase if I wanted to be better. The backing of the co-founder helped a lot as well.
I now know that it is okay to dream.